Molecular Parasitology Lab

 
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Prof. Namita Surolia
Professor
Molecular Biology & Genetics Unit

Mechanisms underlying host-pathogen interactions in malaria

Plasmodium falciparum, which means fatal form of human malaria, kills 1-3 million people each year. The absence of a malaria vaccine and its widespread resistance to drugs leads us to rely on an increased understanding of Plasmodium falciparum biology.

Plasmodium possesses unique qualities responsible for the virulence of the disease and immune invasion. Deciphering host-pathogen interactions offers the hope of a malaria cure. To this end, our laboratory uses proteomics, genomics, molecular biology, cell biology and systems-Biology approaches for detailed delineation of parasite biology and host-pathogen interactions.

PLASMODIUM-DERIVED PROTEINS RESPONSIBLE FOR MALARIA VIRULENCE AND ACTIVE SIGNALING

After the invasion of erythrocytes, the human malaria parasite resides within a parasitophorous vacuole and develops from ring to trophozoite stage. The virulence of this organism is due in part to the way in which it modifies the membrane of the infected erythrocytes it grows in.

These virulence factors include PfEMP1, ETRAMPS, and kinases of the FIKK family. PfEMP1 molecules are trafficked to the erythrocyte plasma membrane, where they mediate adhesion to host receptors on the vascular endothelium and other cells, while members of FIKK proteins and ETRAMPS are involved in the remodeling of the erythrocyte surface and active signaling between host and parasite.

HOST FACTORS INVOLVED IN RESISTANCE OR SUSCEPTIBILITY TO MALARIA

Plasmodium falciparum has a profound effect on the evolution of the human genome. Populations historically exposed to Plasmodium falciparum malaria demonstrate resistance to severe clinical forms of malaria. We are attempting to confirm the host-associated factors in a large-scale, case-control study of severe malaria in South India.

THE SYSTEMS-BIOLOGY APPROACH TO UNDERSTAND INTERPLAY OF THE HOST-PATHOGEN NETWORK FOR DRUG DEVELOPMENT

The host-pathogen interplay manifests at every level of cellular regulatory machinery. The complexity of the cellular regulatory network makes it necessary to identify the interaction points between molecular components of the pathogen and the regulatory networks of the host cells. We are carrying out large network-level analyses with the help of Systems-Biology to enable us to interfere with pathogen-specific points.

   Last modified date: 31-05-2011